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Children’s Health, The Nation’s Wealth: Assessing and Improving Child Health
tise available within his or her administration. The most important role of the governor, mayor, or county executive is communicating and demonstrating to the administration and the established leadership team that promoting and evaluating children’s health are priorities.
The federal government can facilitate the development of state data systems by promoting standardization of data collection methodologies and coordinating data collection efforts among the many federal departments and agencies. Federal data also provide a benchmark against which states can compare their own performance and, if collected for all states, a standard to which states can compare one another.
Recommendation 10: The designated state and local coordinating agencies should advance strategies for standardizing and integrating records, including available administrative records and survey data, to maximize their potential for monitoring children’s health and understanding its influences.
Despite increased efforts to collect state- or local-level data through such programs as the maternal and child health block grants and an increase in the number of communities that produce report cards that include or are specific to children, comprehensive state and local-level measurement of children’s health is still relatively uncommon.
Substantial administrative data, collected primarily at the state level, could serve as the foundation for efforts to analyze children’s health in a community and the factors that might explain health problems. Although improved data integration is not in itself sufficient to answer all questions related to children’s health, enhanced efforts to use existing data could advance children’s health in many places. Several states and localities have implemented efforts to integrate administrative data that have helped to inform policy and resulted in changes that benefited children. The strategy for a national health information infrastructure developed by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System discussed in Chapter 6 provide a partial framework for these efforts.
As with surveys, record-based data sources on children’s health and its influences are most useful if they gather health data on multiple developmental stages, identify subgroups prone to poor health, collect and make available information on the geographic location and environmental conditions of subjects, and at the same time ensure the confidentiality of subjects.
Key to maximizing the utility of records-based sources of information is standardizing given types of data and facilitating the linkage of different types of data. Data standardization would be facilitated through the development and use of national guidelines.
The committee found value in aggregating all administrative data relative to children by multiple geographic units, including, if feasible and relevant to local